Copyright © All rights reserved.

Thomas Charles

Thomas Charles was born in the last quarter of 1892 and his birth registered in Malton. He was the third son of Thomas and Hannah (nee Wilson) who were married in the Pickering area in the third quarter of 1888 and was one of seven children. The family seem to have been fairly mobile, starting their married life in Thornton Dale before moving to Ryton by 1901:

1901 Census – resident at Ryton, Great Habton
CHARLES, Thomas, Head, Married, M, 39, Farm Labourer, Thornton Dale, Yorkshire
CHARLES, Hannah, Wife, Married, F, 39, Newton on Rawcliff, Yorkshire
CHARLES, Walter, Son, Single, M, 12, Attending School, Newton on Rawcliff, Yorkshire
CHARLES, William, Son, Single, M, 10, Attending School, Thorntondale, Yorkshire
CHARLES, Thomas, Son, Single, M, 8, Attending School, Ryton, Yorkshire
CHARLES, John, Son, Single, M, 6, Attending School, Ryton, Yorkshire
CHARLES, Elsie, Daughter, Single, F, 4, Infant At Home, Ryton, Yorkshire
CHARLES, Redvers, Son, Single, M, 8 months, Infant At Home, Ryton, Yorkshire

 Thereafter Thomas  senior seems to have got a better job a Howe Bridge Farm as foreman, where they were in 1911:

1911 Census – resident at Howe Bridge Farm, Malton:
CHARLES, Thomas, Head, Married, M, 49, Farm Foreman, Worker, Yorks Thornton Dale,  
CHARLES, Hannah, Wife, Married 22 years, F, 49, Yorks Newton Pickering,  
CHARLES, Thomas, Son, Single, M, 18, Farm Servant Groom, Worker, Yorks Ryton,
CHARLES, Redvers, Son, M, 10, School, Yorks Ryton,  
CHARLES, Margery, Daughter, F, 5, Home, Yorks Ryton,
WARD, Harry, Servant, Single, M, 19, Waggoner On Farm, Yorks Amotherby,
IRELAND, John, Servant, Single, M, 34, Cow Man On Farm, Yorks Birdsall,

Thomas enlisted in “G” Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery which formed part of the 3rd Cavalry Division.  They arrived at Ostend on 8th October 1914 and remained on the Western Front for the duration of the War, taking part in the battles of Ypres and Loos.  I can find no major engagements recorded for the 3rd Cavalry Division in 1916, but Thomas died of wounds in November of that year. It seems likely that his battery was part of the artillery support at the Battle of the Ancre, a politically motivated battle, launched on 13 November 1916.  The aim was to provide good news for a meeting of Allied commanders at Chantilly on 15 November and so an attack was planned on either side of the Ancre river near Thiepval.

 Supported by artillery, machine guns and tanks, the 51st (Highland) Division stormed across the heavily-defended Y Ravine and captured the village of Beaumont Hamel. Meanwhile, on their left, the 2nd Division advanced along Redan Ridge. On the right, attacking across the low ground between Beaumont Hamel and the river, the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division reached the village of Beaucourt on the first day and secured it on the next. To their north, efforts were less successful; here the 3rd and 31st  Divisions were expected to form a defensive flank and take the village of Serre but their attack failed. South of the Ancre II Corps took its objectives with relative ease.

At this point, the Battle of the Ancre could be considered a success for the British, and C-in-C Haig was satisfied with the result. However, V Army commander Gough was keen to continue further. On 18 November, II Corps was ordered to drive north on the Munich and Frankfurt Trenches towards the village of Grandcourt and the river. North of the river, V Corps was meant to secure the remainder of Redan Ridge. Neither attack was successful. Ninety men of the 16th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry were cut off in Frankfurt Trench, where they held out until 21 November when the 45 survivors— thirty of them wounded—surrendered.

It would seem likely that Thomas Charles was wounded at the outset of the battle and died the same day 13th November 1916.  He was buried at Aveluy Wood Cemetery, Mesnil-Martinsart, France.

The cemetery was begun in an area known to the Army as 'Lancashire Dump' in June 1916, a few days before the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, and was used by fighting units and field ambulances until the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in February 1917. It then remained unused until the German advance in the spring of 1918. In September the V Corps Burial Officer added graves of April-September 1918 to Row H of Plot I.  After the Armistice, Plots II and III were added when isolated graves were brought in from Aveluy Wood itself, and in 1923 Rows I to M of Plot I (124 graves) were added by concentrations from a wider area. Aveluy Wood Cemetery now contains 380 burials and commemorations of the First World War. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.